University life aint what it used to be. Back in the good old days compulsory student unionism guaranteed Orientation week would offer all kinds of subsidized student life. No internet meant you had to turn up for lectures. Poverty stricken group houses were a rite of passage. Summer bridging courses didn’t exist and I’m sure less students worked.
In the middle of all this some pretty remarkable student ministry took place. A few generations of Sydney Anglican leadership have come out of the hot house of university ministry. In God’s kindness we saw many people converted or grown in maturity during their university days. Many offered for missionary service or went on to MTS or Moore College. Many more were trained in evangelism, personal bible reading, how to lead a small group or conduct a mission. One way or another those skills went out into most parishes in the Diocese.
But university life is changing, and student ministry faces new challenges. Universities are strapped for cash and class sizes have grown everywhere. Students work more, are on campus less, and are less likely to do things beyond study. Lots of clubs have folded or are much smaller.
The stream of well trained Christian graduates may not be as strong as it has been. This isn’t inevitable and certainly is not a critique of the current crop of student workers. It is just a recognition that the environment they work in is now much tougher for spending quality time with students. Anglican churches live downstream of student ministry. If the work there does dry up, even a little, then churches will suffer.
The news is not all bleak. There are new opportunities as well. More and more international students come to Australia and great ministry is taking place with some of them.
What should we therefore do? Here are 5 suggestions....
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